“Gooch,” says Sara. Sara is not enamored with being in the middle but really despises being in the bottom. She feels like she is the stones in each team's pockets, bringing them down to the bottom of the creek. I don’t think that was the cause of Patty’s demise but I am not there to add therapeutic word balms. Patty’s three years of experience have gone with her packed knives, and that small amount of experience may have contributed to her demise. I think to truly last through this you need years of clanging pots, dealing with the stress, and figuring out ways to get yourself our of them weeds.
Mac Rebennack is in the house, but he’s dressed up like Dr. John. Mac is John, just so you’re following. More than that he is a legend of New Orleans music tradition. If you love American music of all shapes and sizes you need Dr. John’s Gumbo in your collection. It’s the standards, but no one does it better than Dr. John, the Night Tripper.
Now understanding what the good Dr. is saying is another story. He’s a cosmic figure and sometimes understanding the utterings rely on hallucinogenic drugs, but at my age, that is out of the question. Luckily he is being subtitled. Love the outfit and the joie de vivire that John exhibits. When asked how he’s doing his response is a thankful, “I’m breathing.” Alrighty then 'cause I thought he said “I’m breeding.” Breathing is much more family-friendly.
It’s a making hot sauce challenge and Dr. John wants many things including the elusive “hip tang.” “flavornacity of the highest order,” and the very rare “tangnacity.” He want you to hit it with the “can’t quit.” Oh, and it’s “gotta be kickin’. "
Travis looks through his internal culinary encyclopedia and comes up with the eternal question, “What kind of hot sauce does John want?”
They cook and profile themselves, with Carlos making a Mexican hot sauce and Shirley making a Chinese one. We learn that Nicholas was nervous in his 20s… this is a truism, as we were all nervous wrecks at that age. Carrie hopes “this pirate can throw down with some heat.” Did she just hit on Dr. John?
Brian cannot explain his hip tang.
Shirley gets a "Wow, off the hook, yeah."
Carrie made a hot one. Tang is there, or is it?
Nicholas has made a hip tang Heinz 57 sauce.
Louis made Canadian delight, with fresno and maple syrup. Dr. John can’t get a handle on this one, and Louis is dead to him.
Stephanie. Off da hook. He kinda likes it. Carlos goes Yucatan. Dr. John profiles Carlos profiling himself, and tells him that because he looks like he can make hot sauce it seems that he can make hot sauce.
Nina goes Caribbean. Hot. Hot. My family lived in Jamaica, Puerto Rico, and Cuba for 100 years and my dearly departed grandmother Freda would make Scotch Bonnet jelly that would tear you up. They love heat in them islands.
Justin goes umami. John likes this.
Bottoms: Nicholas’ was muddled and Dr. J does not like the “sweet, sour maneuver”; Carrie’s was Trinidadidilly not great; Nina burned the house down, but not in a good way. Brian, Justin, and Carlos get the tops for their hot sauce. Winner is Brian. Immunity is granted. He did understand the hip tang.
A porcine heavyweight contender is rolled out, flat on its back. It’s a beast. Toby and Donald Link are in attendance. Boucherie cooking is what’s up. Boucherie is the French term for butcher. The Cajun tradition is to celebrate the whole animal in a massive cookout while challenging your liver to alcohol acrobatics.
Butchery pissing contests ensue. Chefs grab their parts and get to work on the pig before shopping. Shopping ensues, and then they get back to the house and eat a ton of boucherie food cooked by Toby and his lieges. I love me some backbone stew.
Sometimes they nail it -- all of them -- and the bottoms are a hard call. This was one of those times. They all cooked pretty badass food, so the letdowns were pretty small.
Brian: Porchetta with Oyster Mushrooms
Sara: Pork Dim Sum with Crab and Shrimp Har Gow
Justin: Wood-Roasted Pork Breast Taco with Pork Liver Salsa Verde
Carlos: Pozole Verde with Fried Chorizo Tacos
Shirley: Jiaozi Dumpling with Pork, Grilled Kidney, and Crispy Pork Fat Salad
Louis: Slow-Grilled Pork Leg with Spring Onions, Shiitake Mushrooms, Melted Corn, and Popcorn
Stephanie: Pork Brodo with Braised Pork Belly and Summer Vegetable Pickle
Travis: Cajun-Style Pork Ramen with Pork Bone Broth and Collard Greens
Carrie: Crispy Trotters with Snap Peas and Pickled Onions
Nicholas: Tete de Cochon with Summer Beans, Lemongrass Vinaigrette, and Wheat Berries
Nina: Braised Pig's Head Ragu, Roasted Corn, and Mustard Greens
I got all dripped up on my nice Gant Rugger shirt, which has since been shrunk down by mistaken trips to the hot dryer. It now fits me, if I was 11 all over again. Gant Rugger, you all should send me another. Please. Drips on shirts was the worst thing that happened all day, 'cause otherwise it was a great event with great people. Very cool. As I write, I am listening to Dr. John sing his heart out, and the memories of that food, those people, and that wonderful place that is New Orleans are pretty awesome.
Winner is Carlos with a kicking posole. It was a masterful dish. Smart, real, full of feeling -- everything great food should be.
Somebody has to go, and Louis is the one. If a reason can be found, it’s that he just busied up good pork with some weird modern popcorn thing. He’s got a busy mind, and sometimes you just muddle purity.
Let me tell ya though: I worry not about Louis. He’s immensely driven and wonderfully talented. He’ll go far in this world. Louis, let me know if I can help in any way.
Follow me on Twitter @hughacheson.